Do voices have color? Controversy arises after activists discover that vast majority of voice overdub actors of ‘Black Panther’ film are white

‘Black Panther’ actors and Brazilian voice overdub actors who read their lines

Note from BW of Brazil: It’s amazing how many intriguing developments and details are coming out, all connected to the release of the blockbuster film Black Panther (Pantera Negra) in Brazil. A few days ago, I discussed the Brazilian connections to the actual making of the film, now we have a controversy that first broke dealing with a technical aspect of “Brazilianizing” the film for Brazil’s film market. If you don’t know after all of this time, Brazilians speak Portuguese and as Brazil imports so much media from English speaking countries, particularly the United States, the voiceover/overdub market is an industry in itself.

When one goes to a movie theater in Brazil, it’s pretty easy to conclude that about 80% of the films are from the United States. And when you watch an American production, there are usually two choices for Brazilians who don’t speak or understand English. There are the films that show subtitles for reading on the screen or there are voices overdubbed in Portuguese. When I went to see the film nearly two weeks ago, the theater featured subtitles. But other movie goers have already seen the production with voiceovers. And with the voiceover dubs, two things are immediately noticeable. One, the actors cast in Black Panther spoke English in a manner that was meant to imitate an African accent. The Brazilian overdubs did nothing of the sort and several people have confirmed that the Brazilian overdub actors spoke in a regular Brazilian accent. But it’s the second point that has led to controversy.

You see, it is a well known fact that about 90% of the actors in the American production were black. Of the Brazilian overdub actors, from what I ascertain, only three of the voiceover actors are black. But the question is, should this be an issue? Since Afro-Brazilian activists saw the faces of the overdub actors, the answer has been a resounding YES! For them, such a huge production employing black actors, voices of black people should also be used in its translation. Some would say it doesn’t matter as the overdub actors won’t be seen on camera. This is an intriguing debate. The last time I discussed this issue was when I wondered how Rochelle of Everybody Hates Chris fame would feel if she knew that a white woman was speaking for her in Brazil.

Allow me to say, as an African-American, in the American context this could make a difference. What I’m saying is, in my experience, when I would receive or make a phone call in the United States, I would automatically know within the first few seconds if the voice on the other end of the phone belonged to a black or white person. The differences are that clear. Of course, there many black Americans who do speak in what could be called a “neutral” tone, news journalists for example, but if we’re speaking on black folks in the ‘hood, sometimes the differences cannot be ignored. In Brazil, both in my own experience and in the opinions of people I’ve asked, knowing the race of the person on the other end of a phone call is not easy to decipher. Why is that? Is it because all Brazilians speak “Pretoguese” (black Portuguese) due to the strong influence of Africans on the Portuguese language, as Lélia González once argued? I’m not sure, but I will say, I wouldn’t wanna hear Howard Cosell doing a voice overdub for Muhammad Ali.

My last point on this topic would be, the race of the voiceover actors may or may not be important, but I think there is another issue that should be considered here. If there were only three black Brazilians cast as voiceover actors in Black Panther, would it be a stretch to imagine that in Brazil’s voiceover industry, white people make up the overwhelming majority of the actors in the field in the same way that they dominate nearly every other genre? I’d bet money on it…

Anyway, let’s get to the story…


 White voice overdub actors cast in Black Panther provoke controversy

The faces of the voice actors were revealed in specialized internet pages

The excellent repercussion of the film Black Panther in Brazil didn’t prevent more attentive spectators from calling attention to the fact that Brazilian voice overdubbing in the film is done by pessoas brancas (white people). The faces of the voice actors were revealed in specialized web pages.

The release of the photos created the controversy. There are those who consider that the voice actors of a film starring black people should be black as well, others support the dubbing of the film and say that in voice dubbing, there is no ethnicity.

According to the Archanjo Blog UOL site, the dubbing of the Pantera Negra film was supervised by the voice actor Sérgio Cantú. Voice recordings took place in Rio (estúdio Vison) and in São Paulo (TV Group), including some of the best dubbing professionals in Brazil.

Guilçherme Briggs, an important name in dubbing in Brazil, wrote a text on the internet in response to criticism of dubladores brancos (white voice overdub) actors in Pantera Negra. “In dubbing we don’t choose by skin color, but by the voice and adaptation of the same to the actor or character, by the talent and interpretation,” he said.

“A number of dear black dubbing colleague brothers dub white characters and vice versa, just as white voice actors dub different black characters and actors,” he said.


Guilherme Briggs: “In dubbing we don’t choose by skin color, but by the voice and adaptation of the same to the actor or character, by the talent and interpretation. A number of dear black dubbing colleague brothers dub white characters and vice versa, just as white voice actors dub different black characters and actors. Jorge Lucas is black and dubs Ben Affleck, Johnny Depp and Charlie Sheen. Márcio Simões is white and dubs Morgan Freeman. Marcos Souza is black and dubs Channing Tatum. I am white and I dub Denzel Washington. There is no racism in overdubbing, however to complain that there are no black voiceover actors is really funny, because it doesn’t make the least sense. If people knew the backstage of overdubbing, as I have for more than 25 years, they would realize this right away. And to finalize and for all to reflect with sincerity: VOICE DOESN’T HAVE COLOR. For me, race doesn’t exist, skin color, we should leave this behind definitively, we are all HUMANS, BROTHERS, children of the Cosmos.”

The opinion was the same shared by one of the pages specialized in dubbing that shared the photo with the faces of professionals involved in the Brazilian version of Black Panther. On the Planeta de Dublagem page on Facebook, a post warns that a “voice actor is different from a double” and that “voice has no color and color doesn’t define talent.”

Last week, internet surfers had already criticized the translation of one of the film’s most important dialogues.

bondage - translation

Julio Gomes: “The translators of Companhia das Palabras, the company responsible for the subtitles Black Panther, ruined one of the most important dialogues of the film. And look at this “coincidence”: only the most political speech of the film! It is when one character tells another:

“Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, ’cause they knew death was better than bondage.”

Why didn’t they translate “BONDAGE” into “PRISON”? A serious error because even Google correctly translates the term as slavery, servitude, bondage (and even captivity!). In addition to trading garlic for galls, the Brazilian version considerably softens the impact of the original text.

May Wakanda’s justice take care of these wretches!

Carol Crespo - Shuri

I am Carol Crespo and I overdubbed Shuri in Black Panther

Sit down, a text is coming, but it won’t be bringing ratings for hatred! But it will be bringing high ratings to LOVE!

I am a woman, mother, professional and Brazilian. I say this with the certainty of including thousands of people together with me.

I honor my family! My ancestors. I have learned this forever and leave it as a legacy for my next generations. My family has strong men and women full of honesty and character.

We can start by remembering that Brazil is indigenous (red). And yes, black, white and yellow (Asian). ALL of us who are born here are formed by these beautiful colors. From this principle, five hundred years after this watercolor, no one here should feel pure of race. Really because we have already seen how “making yourself pure of race” culminated crimes and great exterminations in the world.

I studied most of the life in public school and all the colors were present there. I have great friends who live in communities and not only that! Whoever lives in Rio de Janeiro practically live in the community (even if they don’t live there) wherever they live … And all the colors are always there and will be there! I love this presence of colors!

My family has many colors and they are all beautiful! And before we label them we fight for the brothers. Simply because we are alike! Being brothers! Even without being of the same blood.

O amor não tem cor (love has no color), voz não tem cor e a cor não define o talento nem garra (voice has no color and color does not define talent or determination)!

In the moment that we are truly brothers and fight for love regardless of color, ethnicity, sexual choice and religion we will be much more united and loyal! We will be much happier!

Let’s talk about representativeness! Of course! But let’s talk about representativeness as human beings! Let’s talk about love! Let’s talk about struggle! But let’s talk about the names of all our brothers! There are people of all colors in this huge Brazil needing everything! There are people all over the world in need!

I honor you reading this publication. I hope you honor me. I just hope that I never invade my house (or my social networks or my name) disregarding my competence.

As for the movie, don’t miss the great opportunity to realize everything that has been said by me so far! Everything is there!

Don’t miss the great opportunity to dive into Wakanda! Realize the technical quality of the effects, the script and the costumes! Enjoy the magnificent performances of the actors!

Just another point to add about the Black Panther: I love comics and for those who don’t know, Stan Lee and Jack Kirb made this incredible superhero at a time when racial segregation screamed in the world! And they are white! They made Shuri who is the character that I overdub being a very intelligent black woman and all the people of Wakanda rich in knowledge and technology. So, why do we come now in the middle of 2018 with a speech of segregation and racism again? Even with the voice actors? Racism is prejudice over a race regardless of what it is! Let’s just love and honor!

As for dubbing, I have refined a few points along the magnificent text of the Planeta da Dublagem (Planet of the Dubbing) and I make myself available to make no move against my beloved profession that brings so much information, culture and love to so many illiterate, disabled, children, elderly people, besides those who by pure choice, appreciate this aspect of art. Of course, the film talks about BLACK representativeness, with black actors and that many expected this in the dubbing, but dubbing choices are made by the voice and not by the appearance!

“Are not there any black voice actors to dub the Black Panther characters?”

Answer: Of course there are, because we live in Brazil, a country with a true mix of blacks, Indians and whites. Many AUDITIONED yes, thinking about this issue of representativeness, but again we come back to the question of voice matching the character.

Why did not they dub it?

Answer: It was not because of race, lack of talent, none of this … It was a professional choice, because of the voice, because we speak of voice actors and not doubles!

Do we have blacks in the overdub cast of Black Panther?

Answer: We have yes, Carol Crespo, Marcos Souza and Pierre Bittencourt.

And there’s another question! The question of following the dolls! What would this be????

Answer: Respect the voice actor/dubber who has already dubbed the actor/actress in other productions. Precisely to respect the fans of the art.

Have you stopped to think?

* Jorge Lucas is black and dubs several white actors – Ben Affleck, Mark Ruffalo, Vin Diesel, Johnny Depp …

* Carol Crespo is black and dubs several white actresses – Cara Delevigne, Emilia Clarke …

* Marcos Souza – who dubs the Channing Tatum

It’s an honor to be part of this dubbing cast! I am grateful to have friends so dear and talented!!!

List of voice overdub actors for ‘Black Panther’/PanteraNegra’

Note from BW of Brazil: As we can see from the comments of two of the voiceover actors, one white and one black, they are both thoroughly immersed in the typical Brazilian discourse of “we are all equal“, this regardless of so many studies that show that, in Brazil, white and non-white are clearly not treated equally. The numbers speak for themselves, even in this case. Carol Crespo tells us that there are in fact three black voiceover actors in the cast of Black Panthers. But what she didn’t tell us is that, not including the person responsible for “translation, adaptation and direction of overdubbing”, there are are a total of 20 voiceover actors in the production. As such, I would say that three black overdub actors clearly doesn’t represent anything equal. I wonder why she didn’t mention that.

The responses of these two actors come directly out of the “Brazilians aren’t racists” playbook. First, deny racism at all costs. Follow that up with the “we are all equal/brothers” or “love has no color” rhetoric. Make sure to throw Nazi Germany in there, because, as Brazilians are mixed, “we can’t be racists“. And, if all else fails, get a black person who supports the narrative and is perfectly willing to co-sign on the denial. For me, whether one believes the race of the overdub actors is important or not, I’d much rather listen to the arguments of those who at least raise the issue rather than those who are going to come with the same politically correct rhetoric again and again.

Source: Cabana do Leitor, Correio 24 Horas

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.


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